A multinational team of scientists has caught the first ever video footage of the elusive Omura's whale.
The species has long escaped scientific understanding and for years members were confused for similar-looking Bryde’s whales. They only became identified as a species in 2003 and the first-ever field observations were only published a few weeks ago. The same team who made these observations – led by Salvatore Cerchio of the New England Aquarium and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution – also managed to catch this rare video of an Omura's whale in the Indian Ocean, off the island of Madagascar.
The team is returning this month to further study the whales' vocalizations, behavior and population characteristics.
Very little is known about this species. They’re a member of the group of whales called rorquals, which includes the blue whale. In comparison, they’re small, measuring between 10 meters (33 feet) and 11.5 meters (37 feet 7 inches) in length. The range of their habitat also remains unclear, although there have been reports of them being beached in Australia and Japan.
“What little we knew about these whales previously came primarily from eight specimens of Omura's whales taken in Japanese scientific whaling off the Solomon and Keeling Islands and a couple strandings of dead animals in Japan,” Salvatore Cerchio said in a statement. “This is the first definitive evidence and detailed descriptions of Omura's whales in the wild and part of what makes this work particularly exciting.”